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Subject: Mario Papini talks about De Vulgari Eloquentia [english version] rss

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Alessandro Benvenuti
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Here's a translation of an interview that Mario Papini, designer of the new Z-Man Games title, De Vulgari Eloquentia, conducted with Morpheus (me on BGG) for the La Tana dei Goblin website.

Morpheus: Mario, first of all I want to thank you for giving me this interview for the “Tana dei Goblin”. I know you personally because I played your prototypes of Siena in 2005 and De Vulgari a few weeks ago. I want to go over with your career as author of board games and talk about your last born.

If I am not mistaken, your first game is "Casablanca" (1983), then you created in 2004 "Feudo" and the well-known "Siena" in 2005, continuing with "Mamma" and "Fishmarket" in 2006, and, after a jump of 4 years, now it is the time of the new board game "De Vulgari Eloquentia", about the birth of the Italian language. Is it a exact chronology or I missed something?

Mario: It's a perfect chronology.

Morpheus: The first question is obvious: how did you decide to become an author of boardgames?

Mario: The answer is obvious as well. I like very much to play. I tried to do a game that frees my imagination and it was beautiful. I achieved the first goal, that's sure.

Morpheus: Let's talk about your first creation "Casablanca": did you have ever think to propose it again or to update it with new mechanics?

Mario: Yes, I'm thinking about that... But I haven't a lot of time in this period.

Morpheus: Now De Vulgari. First of all: from where did you take the (original) idea to do a game about the birth of the Italian language?

Mario: The steps were the following: I wanted to make an easy game about the languages, and I created a card game. Some people played it and they said: "the mechanism is nice but it is set in a college. The Middle Ages would be better." Talking with Lanzuisi (Daredevil here on Tana dei Goblin, Ed), a my friend, he suggested to do it about the birth of the Italian language. So the first seed of the game is his. It took me half a day to translate the setting from modern to vernacular, and I was very satisfied. It came out a card game even better. Then, suddenly, I realized that there was too much material to reduce it to a card game and I changed it into a boardgame.

Morpheus: There is a winning strategy in De Vulgari?

Mario: No, I think this is an honor. You go for feeling. Someone wants to be a merchant (they will never give you a meal), and someone else wants to become a friar (they are nice persons). Lanzuisi, for example, is a heart-felt boy ... He never finished a game like a merchant.

Morpheus: Seeing the finished product, are you satisfied or do you have any regrets?

Mario: I have not seen the finished product. If you're referring to the game, I am very satisfied. I would say that it is an evolution of Siena.

Morpheus: The italian publisher is 'Giochix of Quondam, that, at least for now, has produced games almost exclusively by Michele Quondam. What convinced him to produce a Papini game? There were hitches during development of the game?

Mario: Well, you should ask to him. "Hitches" is a word improper. The word "opinions" is better.

Morpheus: Do you have a few anecdotes to tell us that happened during the gestation of the game?

Mario: Well, we always had fun. The game is fun and I think that it's one of my characteristics. I'm not feel a "german" author from that point of view. I played with people and friends that then I put in the game like characters, and this has involved them. I reserved for me the role of Friar Mario, since I'm good for nature too.

Morpheus: Mario, give us some more details about De Vulgari Eloquentia

Mario: I am not very expert in speaking of game mechanics. There are a lot of them, and they mix each other. Basically, each round everyone spend five actions, among many possible. Originally, these actions were called "weeks". Each had 5 "weeks" to be used in various ways. They are now simply called "actions", perhaps because it is more understandable.

Let me mention some specific aspects of the game.

1) The change of status.

The player's character, who moves on the map of Italy in the late Middle Ages, is a merchant, at the start of the game. During the game, you can change the status of your character to Friar and / or Cardinal. This recalls my previous game, "Siena," but I would say that here there is an evolution.

In "Siena" the player starts like a peasant and before the end of the game he must become a merchant and then a banker. It is necessary for the victory. In DVE you can win in any status, and I think the game is balanced in each of the three roles. The players might be interested in re-play it to see if they can win in a role other than that already experienced.

2) The goal of the game.

The player that, with his character, learned more vulgar wins the game. Victory points (pv) are called "vulgar points" (pv). The ways to achieve "vulgar points" are many. You can increase your linguistic knowledge (attending university or with certain events), and, through this great knowledge, you can read the manuscripts, written in different dialects of the time, that you find in the corresponding regions. To do this, you must travel through Italy: it can be from north to south or vice versa, or otherwise. Travel costs money, the merchants will be able to make money selling their goods in some cities of Italy. For the friars, making money is clearly more problematic.

3) Various Friars and Cardinals

This ability to change status into a friar, and then possibly into a Cardinal attracts many players. It happens like in real life .... you try to change what that don't satisfy you anymore. To improve this aspect I did the standard merchant. Each merchant is the same for everyone. While there are five different friars and five different cardinals, each one with special benefits. Because of these different choices, some players want to try the change. But if you win like a merchant, you would understand that the new life was not so better than that who bored you so much ...

4) The strategy

This is definitely a strategy game.The more experienced players can plan from the first round which kind of match they will do. For example

a) you can play like a merchant for 10 rounds, then become in the the eleventh round a friar, for example Friar Ralph, and remain in this status until the end of the game.

b) you can become a friar as soon as possible, then become the first cardinal, for example Lanzuisi.

c) you can play the game to become even the Pope himself!

d) you can complete quickly the University of Bologna, or ignore it altogether

e) you can play to be the richest, or ignore it altogether.

f) you can move in the peninsula in the best way to gain certain events before the other players do or ignore this.

g) you can stop in the abbeys, or decide not to ever enter

5) Special rules

There are many special rules in this game, all of my satisfaction. That of Saint Francesco's "Canticle of the Sun", the first literary document written in vulgar, is, in my opinion, the best I've ever created (but probably this classification affects only me ...).


Morpheus: What kind of player can be directed De Vulgari Eloquentia?

Mario: I think it's a fairly easy game, despite of 10 pages of rules. But I'm the worst judge of this.

Morpheus: Perfect number of players?

Mario: I like it in any number. In two is very fast, in three each player could choose a different role, in four or five there is a sure competition between several friars and / or cardinals.

Morpheus: Why players should play De Vulgari?

Mario: Given that this is a classic game of mine, namely the type of game you can expect from someone who has done "Feudo" and "Siena", players are divided into three categories, as you know.

Those who know and appreciate the kind of games I do. Those who know and don't appreciate the kind of games I do. Those who do not know who is Mario Papini.

To the first category I will say: trust me, you'll like this game very much. To the second category I will say: please, give me another chance. I'm in difficult with the third category. They are so many and varied that I do not know where to begin to convince them. Okay, I'll try ... To this multitude I'll say: if you like the Story, if you like to play smiling, if you like strategy to the point of deciding what kind of life to do, try this game. "Try me, and we will become friends."


Morpheus: When will De Vulgari?

Mario: It will be out for October 2010.

Morpheus: Now some gossip. Personally I played about three years ago to one of your prototype called Michelangelo that had as its object the affresko of the Sistine Chapel, just the theme and the mechanics that meeting today in Fresko by Queen Games, this year You've sold the idea?!

Mario: Eheh, no, indeed I not even know this game ... I abandoned the idea of Michelangelo after was denied to me the permission to put the picture in the game. Probably after I did play in various international fairs someone used my idea, but instead of using a real affresko and having to seek permission has been reproduced from scratch like a Renaissance painting so probably there was no need to ask anything anyone ...

Morpheus: This does annoys you somehow?

Mario: No, I'm a romantic at heart.

Morpheus: Now look to the future, what is in the head Papini for the future??

Mario: What big question! There are ideas, want to study a bit 'more as well. It 's a bit time is lacking. You know at 57 I started to work seriously. But the child in me shake ...

Morpheus: We'll wait another four years before seeing one of your game?

Mario: The Inspiration is a woman. She ramble on around, do not know where. I meet her? An if I meet her, I'll put pregnant? From this you will understand that at least 9 months ...
Morpheus: Good luck to all Mario!

Mario: Thanks. Best wishes to all Goblins.
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Daniel Danzer
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Microbadge: Kubrick fanMicrobadge: Marcel Duchamp fanMicrobadge: Rules TranslatorMicrobadge: Marcel Duchamp fanMicrobadge: Buster Keaton fan
Must buy for me.

Thanks for the translation!
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Marcus E.-L.
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I have to admit that I never heard of Mario Papini or his games before. Your interview resulted in buying Siena and loosing my patience because of DVE. :-D

Thank you!
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Maciek U
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I'm soooo looking forward to reading the new rules when they come out. From the moment I've heard about Siena, it has been one of my most favorite games. Just love it! I hope this game will also be as indulgent as Siena is.
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nathan hayden
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Game sounds incredible.
 
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Ziegreich
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Siena is my favourite game. I've notched up six plays in the last two months - and it's not because the game is new to me.

So I started looking around and voila! A new game by Mario Papini. Exciting!

I think the thing he says about being a romantic is the key.

If you don't know Papini's games and can't wait for this one, I urge you to (a) get hold of Siena and (b) download the reworked rules from BGG if you speak English.

It's ranked over 1600 on BGG, which is baffling.



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Marcus E.-L.
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ZirkvandenBerg wrote:

It's ranked over 1600 on BGG, which is baffling.
That baffles me too. I do not know how that myth of Siena being incomprehensible and too complex got started. And with your reworked rules there should not be any problem at all. (Thank you BTW!)

56 days till Spiel 2010. Did I mention that I cannot stand waiting? whistle
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